While nobody enjoys a loss, let alone to a hated rival like the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t be too down after Sunday night. They’re still far ahead of the expectations following their Week 1 loss and Dak Prescott’s injury, and the road ahead gives plenty of reason for optimism.
After four-straight wins with Cooper Rush at quarterback, the Cowboys finally met an opponent they needed Prescott to overcome. The defense stepped up in the second half and allowed Dallas to get back into the game, but the hole wouldn’t have been as deep with QB1 on the field.
That second half went a long way to mitigate the sting of the defeat. The Eagles completely outclassed the Cowboys in the first half, and a continuation of that the whole night would’ve left a much different feeling in its wake. Dallas’ response and tightening of the game despite Rush’s limitations perfectly set the stage for Dak’s return this week; the difference-maker as Dallas looks to keep pace in the NFC East.
Despite their 4-2 record, the Cowboys are somehow in third behind the undefeated Eagles and the inexplicably 5-1 New York Giants. If the playoff started now, all three would make the tournament with Dallas and New York claiming two of the three wild card spots.
The Cowboys could reasonably improve to 6-2 after upcoming home games against the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. Based on what we saw during the four-game winning streak, Cooper Rush could probably handle these opponents. But all signs point to Prescott getting medically this week and returning to active duty.
This timing is excellent for Dallas. These next two games still matter plenty, especially against NFC opponents, but the pressure won’t be the same as what’s coming in November and December. This gives Prescott two good opportunities to work out any issues before competition picks up in the second half of the season.
After hosting Detroit and Chicago, the Cowboys will enjoy their bye week. They then have a tough two-game road trip in Green Bay and Minnesota before spending Thanksgiving with the Giants.
Assuming Dallas handles its business in the next two games, they will close out this first half of the season with what should still be one of the best records in the conference. And even if they’re still trailing the Eagles and Giants in the NFC East, there will still be rubber matches at home with both and the rest of the schedule for playing catch up.
In the end, all that really matters is qualifying for the postseason. No matter how upsetting the loss to the Eagles was, the Cowboys are still in an excellent position to make the playoffs.
Not only are a solid record and soft schedule still working in Dallas’ favor, but Sunday night gave Dan Quinn’s defense a good reality check. While they still showed plenty of good things, Philly’s offense was able to execute and even take advantage of Micah Parsons in some key moments.
While Prescott’s return should go a long way to improving the Cowboys’ offense and overall competitiveness, this loss also gave the defense some things to figure out. If anybody was getting full of themselves after the four-straight wins, this punch in the mouth may have come at just the right time.
Keeping up in the NFC race is still well within Dallas’ grasp. And while the Eagles do seem to be a legitimate contender, Sunday night showed that the full-strength Cowboys can definitely hang with them in any future contest.
Sure, we may look back on this loss with some regrets if it costs Dallas something in January. But compared to what we felt after Week 1, this one just doesn’t hurt that much. The Cowboys have been playing with house money while Dak Prescott’s been out and are ultimately coming out winners.